Wine and Cheese Pairing – Perfect Matching
While living in France, I tasted my way through rural regions of the country, with many lunches and dinners consisting of baguette, cheese and wine (which I still think is the greatest meal you can have). When picking up ingredients in small villages and asking the locals for advice, every French person I spoke to would invariably tell me the same thing – pas de vin rouge.
No red wine! Isn’t that an essential part of the classic food and beverage pairing? After putting this theory to the test, though, I came to side with les français. Dry, tannic and spicy red wines are often too overbearing and compete with cheese – white wines are much better suited to the world of fromage, and enhance the complex flavours of both the wine and the cheese.
Having said this, I give the disclaimer that so often comes with wine – there are no firm rules. If you like a red wine with your cheese, by all means, have it. However, I encourage you to explore the world of white wine, even if you’re strictly a red wine drinker, if you are serving wine simply with cheese.
Here are some of my preferences and tips for matching wine with cheese:
Creamy, soft cheese
- Creamy, savoury cheeses like camembert, brie and even fresh goat cheeses call for something acidic, bright and even slightly sweet, like an off-dry Riesling or something sparkling like Crémant; we know acidity helps cut through fat, so these wines are great with rich, creamy cheese.
- I’m talking blue cheese, gruyère or stinky washed-rind cheeses; sweet wines such as Sauternes or Port (yes this is red, but as a dessert wine it works – blue cheese and port is a classic for a reason) will bring balance to all all of that funky flavour.
- Rich white wines like Semillon or Sauvignon Blanc complement mild cheddars and hard sheep milk cheeses; if the cheese has a bit of age under its belt and a more complex nutty flavour, a Chardonnay can also be quite good.
When in doubt…
- “If it grows together, it goes together” – this isn’t an adage to live by, but it’s useful advice when you’re unsure about matching cheese and wine; I recommend trying a glass of Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna with some Parmigiano Reggiano, which are all grown and produced in the same region of Italy, or some intense Délice de Bourgogne with a white Burgundy – you’ll see why this makes sense upon first bite!
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